SFA holds off UTPA in five sets

ARLINGTON, Texas – Sabrina Burns put up a career-high 18 kills and the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks held off a scrappy UT Pan American squad to take a 3-2 (23-25, 25-17, 25-xx, 20-25, 15-13) win in the season opener for both teams on Friday at the UTA/Hilton Invitational at the College Park Center.

SFA (1-0) is now 11-0 all-time against the Broncs (0-1), getting the win in the first meeting between the schools since 2008.

Burns needed just 35 swings to get her 18 kills, misfiring just three times to hit .479 for the match, eclipsing her previous career high of 15 kills set as a junior last year. Madison Hanlan started her season off on the right foot as well, picking up 27 digs, while Katzy Randall added 20 digs and seven kills and freshman Tori Bates had 11 digs.

Sophomore Jill Ivy had 10 kills on 35 swings of her own, and Paige Holland had 41 assists, but it was SFA's size that proved to be the difference in the match. SFA outblocked the Broncs 11-2 with Burns leading the way with six, including a pair of solo rejections. Jacque Allen added four solo blocks in her first collegiate match, while Bates had a hand in a pair as well.

Krysta Freitas led the Broncs with 15 kills.

The Ladyjacks looked as though they were going to jump out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first set, leading the majority of the way before the Broncs captured their first lead on a kill from Diara Reynolds. SFA held off three set-point tries from UTPA to cut the lead to 24-23, but Reynolds eventually closed out the set as SFA turned into its own worst enemy in the set, hitting just .095.

But the second set was much different as SFA raced out to a quick 15-5 lead behind three kills from Burns. UTPA managed to cut the lead back to three points midway through the frame, but could come no closer, hitting just -.125 in the set while Burns picked up four of her 18 kills in the set.

The third set belonged to Ivy as the sophomore pumped in seven of her kills in SFA's best offensive set of the night. The Ladyjacks swung a solid .217 in the third set, a set they never trailed in.

Unfortunately, SFA could not close out the match in the fourth set, surrendering the lead at the 11-10 point of the set and never catching back up despite the Broncs hitting just .042. But one set later SFA was able to finally end it on the right note after giving up a 9-5 lead only to see the Broncs knot things up at 10-10 late in the frame.

One point later the Broncs took a lead on an SFA error before a pair of UTPA errors put SFA right back in front. Two points later Burns put one on the floor to get the Ladyjacks two points away from the win, one which she gave SFA three points later when she floored her final kill of the night to wrap up the match.

The Ladyjacks will go after a pair of wins on Saturday, beginning at 11:00 a.m. when they take on Savannah State. They will follow that with a 7:00 p.m. match versus UT Arlington.



Ben Rikard